"While Wall Street and industry observers continued to
speculate about Ted Turner's pursuit of NBC, a key player
appeared to throw cold water on the prospects of such a deal,"
according to Charles Haddad in this morning's ATLANTA
CONSTITUTION. Time Warner Chair Gerald Levin said "he has seen
no proposal for merging NBC with Turner Broadcasting." Time
Warner is a 20% stockholder in TBS. Meanwhile, Turner Sports'
hiring of Mike Pearl, coordinating producer of CBS' last two
Olympic broadcasts, "fueled more speculation that Turner, who has
been shut out of the 1996 Games in his hometown, is still
pursuing [NBC]. Buying NBC would solve two problems for Turner:
Getting a national network and becoming involved in the Games of
Atlanta" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 12/15). The board of GE, parent
company of NBC, is expected tomorrow to consider Turner's bid to
buy a 65% stake in NBC. One unnamed analyst: "There is still a
willing seller and a willing buyer, so you have to say a deal is
possible. But enormous hurdles need to be crossed first" (John
Durie, N.Y. POST, 12/15).
Time Warner Chair Gerald Levin introduced the company's
experimental "Full Service Network" -- an interactive cable
system on trial in Orlando. The project is the "most grandiose"
of the interactive TV trials getting underway across the country,
writes Jube Shiver in today's L.A. TIMES. The tests "are aimed
at determining what kind of technology is best for delivering
interactive services, and what kinds of services consumers are
interested in." Levin: "The debut of the full-service network
is a turning point for the communications industry. With digital
interactivity, consumers are in total control of the programming
they bring into their homes" (L.A. TIMES, 12/15). Levin stressed
that revenue from movie rentals and advertising will be key to
paying for the system (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/15).
MORE INTERACTIVE NEWS: The MD racing commission gave
approval to Laurel and Pimlico race tracks to test the nation's
first in-home betting system, with a one-month trial to begin
January 15 (WASHINGTON POST, 12/15).